Philly-owned firm will run NBA Store in Manhattan

Fanatics, the Jacksonville pro and college sports team gear direct-retailing giant owned by Michael Rubin's Conshohocken-based Kynetic, says it has signed a deal with the National Basketball Association pro league "to operate the new 25,000-square-foot NBA flagship store scheduled to open at 545 Fifth Avenue in time for the 2015 holiday season."

It is the latest and most concrete example of an online retailer moving toward bricks-n-mortar store management. Fanatics also runs what it calls "in-venue" stores at Nascar races and a number of pro or college sports venues, including the New Jersey Devils arena. 

The three-story store promises NBA "jerseys, footwear, headwear, basketballs, novelties and exclusive NBA gear," plus whiz-bang gimmicks such as "a digital ticker displaying the latest league news, game highlights and social media posts, while high-definition flat screen televisions will show live games, NBA TV programming and other NBA content." There's an "event space" for player appearances.

In a statement, Chris Brennan, NBA SVP for Global Retail Development, called Fanatics "the market leader in sports retail" and promised "a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience." Brendan McQuillan, Fanatics VP for In-Venue Commerce, said his firm brings "technology leadership and scale" to the NBA's marketable properties.